A Village: Rákosszentmihály

The village Rákosszentmihály had a small, rural Jewish community prior to the Holocaust. As was the case with all similar communities in Hungary, its members were humiliated, looted, ghettoised and deported in 1944. Although a fragment of the community returned after the liberation, and the congregation reorganized itself, in a few years it ceased to exist. The fate of the Rákosszentmihály Jews is a typical example of the destruction of the countryside Jewry in Hungary.

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The Jewish community of Rákosszentmihály

Jews were first registered in Rákosszentmihály (2 persons) in the 1840 census, but the institutional Jewish congregation was established only in 1900. The community joined the Neolog branch of Hungarian Jewry. The number of Jews in the village continuously increased until 1930, and then it started to slowly decrease. According to the 1941 census there were 787 religious Jews and 106 converts living in the village. [1] The data from spring 1944 indicate 400 members of the community. The head of

The synagogue of Rákosszentmihály

the congregation was József Nádler, a merchant; the rabbi serving as a registrar of vital statistics was rabbi of the Gödöllő community, Géza Eisenberger. The community had its own school, women's association and burial association (Chevra Kadisha).[2] The anti-Jewish legislation hit the local Jews hard too, e.g., local timber merchant Pál Neudorfer was deprived of his trade license and therefore his livelihood.[3]

Ghettoisation and deportation in the outskirts of Budapest

In 1944 the settlements in the outskirts of Budapest (among them Rákosszentmihály as well) belonged to Gendarmerie District I. The deportation plan elaborated by SS Lieutenant Colonel Adolf Eichmann and State Secretary of the Ministry of the Interior László Endre assigned this region to Deportation Zone VI. Accordingly, they intended to deport the Jews of the capital and the outskirts in the last phase of the process. Deportation Zone VI overlapped the northern part of Pest-Pilis-Solt-Kiskun County. This large administrative unit belonged to two deportation zones (northern: VI, southern: IV), but since the ghettoisation process was directed on the county level, the same decree stipulated the concentration of Jews in the southern and northern region too. As of 1938 the sub-prefect of the county was one of the most prominent antisemitic public figures of Hungary, László Endre. After the German occupation of the country when the collaborating Sztójay-government was set up, Endre became the State Secretary of the Ministry of the Interior. The similarly antisemitic József Sághy became the new sub-prefect and the collaborating government appointed László Mérey the new prefect. The ghettoisation process was not directed by Sághy, but County Chief Notary András Géczy. The ghettoisation of the county's Jewry was ordered by Géczy's decree no. 27.409/1944 on May 12, 1944. [4]

The concentration of the Jews of the capital's outskirts was implemented during May and June. The details of the concentration and deportation were elaborated at a meeting held in the Budapest City Hall on June 28, 1944. The deportation order was communicated to the ghetto commanders only verbally. In the last days of June and the first days of July the region's Jewry was concentrated in the two collecting camps: Monor and Budakalász. From these two brick factories 24,128 Jews were deported to Auschwitz between July 6 and 8. The last trains departed after Regent Horthy halted the deportations on July 6-7. [5]

The destruction of the Rákosszentmihály Jews

In Rákosszentmihály there was no separate ghetto set up surrounded

The data registry sheet of the Rákosszentmihály Jewish community as requested by the Central Jewish Council on order of the Nazis (April 1944)

by a fence; in May certain buildings were designated for the Jews. The Jews of some neighbouring villages were also concentrated here, such as those of Rákoshegy, but some Jews from Sashalom were carried here as well. For example Jozefin Neufeld was dragged away from Sashalom: "we had to march to Rákosszentmihály. Previously the gendarmes robbed us of everything and they took our money too."[6] The Jews concentrated in Rákosszentmihály were transported to the Budakalász brick factory on June 30. According to the account of Erzsébet Büchler, the escorting gendarmes behaved decently: "They did not tell us where we would be taken, but they were very sorry for us; one of them even said that if he could save me by sacrificing his own life, he would."[7]

The 36-year-old textile shop-owner had no idea that this attitude was far from the general behaviour of the gendarmerie. However in the Budakalász brick factory it became evident desperately soon. The gendarme unit from Debrecen consisting of 50 men, led by Major Almássy (or Almási) and the SS unit of 10 men treated the prisoners brutally; murders even occurred. The gendarmes focused their "investigations" on hidden valuables; they tortured the Jews, most of whom suffered in the brick factory without food or shelter, deprived of basic hygienic means. This is how a teacher from

Selection of Hungarian Jews in Auschwitz-Birkenau

Budapest described the conditions: "The most horrifying place in the brick factory was the so-called 'hospital'. It was a closed area of the yard where the sick and the elderly were lying outdoors in the glazing sun. When one of them died, the body was simply thrown over the wire fence; the smell was terrible. The so-called 'latrine' is also worth mentioning. Once I was queuing up for hours in front of it, but I could not get in. There were only two latrines for the immense, 30,000-strong mass opposite to each other: one for men, the other for women. There was a hill opposite to the latrine from where the gendarmes took pictures of the latrine. In general the camp was in bedlam. Once in a while people showed up with cauldrons and distributed some soup which actually was dirty, hot water." [8]

Thousands of Gentiles commuting between the outskirts and the capital saw the misery of the Jews crammed into the brick factory with their very own eyes from the railway embankments. Many of them were shaken by the experience. Outstanding Hungarian writer Sándor Márai also witnessed the events. On July he wrote the following entry in his diary: "The train passes the Budakalász brick factory. Seven thousand Jews from the outskirts of Pest are awaiting their deportation here. Soldiers are on guard on the railway embankment with machine guns. You have to see that, words can not describe this reality."

The Jews of Rákosszentmihály were also deported to Auschwitz. The Klein sisters last saw their parents on the ramp in Birkenau: "we were immediately separated from our parents. We have not heard about them ever since; then we had no idea what happened to them, but now we know." [9] The selecting SS-physicians found them capable of working and therefore allowed them to live. Later they were taken to an ammunition factory where they performed slave labour for the Nazis. The mother of the aforementioned Erzsébet Büchler was immediately sent to the gas camber too. She managed to stay together with her sister. Later they were deported to Bergen-Belsen where her sister, Erzsébet, fell ill and died.

Approximately 120 survivors returned to Rákosszentmihály. [10]



[1] Kepes 1993, pp. 226-227.

[2] Frojimovics - Schweitzer 1994, pp. 572-273.

[3] Protocol 1866

[4] Braham 2007, p. 811.

[5] Braham 1997, p. 741.

[6] Protocol 1747

[7] Protocol 3328

[8] Protocol 3645

[9] Protocol 2548

[10] Braham 2007, p. 877.


Braham 1997

Randolph L. Braham: A népirtás politikája - a Holocaust Magyarországon. (The Politics of Genocide. The Holocaust in Hungary.) Vols. 1-2. Budapest, 1997, Belvárosi Könyvkiadó.

Braham 2007

Randolph L. Braham (ed.): A magyarországi holokauszt földrajzi enciklopédiája. (The Geographic Encyclopaedia of the Holocaust in Hungary) Vols. 1-3- Budapest, 2007, Park.

Frojimovics - Schweitzer 1994

Frojimovics Kinga - Schweitzer József (eds.): Magyarországi Zsidó Hitközségek 1944 április. A Magyar Zsidók Központi Tanácsának összeírása a német hatóságok rendelkezése nyomán. (Jewish Communities of Hungary in April 1944. The Survey Conducted by the Central Council of Hungarian Jews as Ordered by the German Authorities) Budapest, 1994, MTA Judaisztikai Kutatócsport - Magyar Zsidó Levéltár - Országos Rabbiképző Intézet.

Kepes 1993

Kepes József (ed.): A zsidó népesség száma településenként (1840-1941) (Number of Jews by Settlements 1840-1941). Budapest, 1993, Központi Statisztikai Hivatal.

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